Owl of Athena ( candlestick )
Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal nothern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl. In Greek mythology, a little owl traditionally represents or accompanies Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, or Minerva , her syncretic incarnation in Roman mythology. Because of such association, the bird often referred to as the "owl of Athena" or the "owl of Minerva" has been used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world.